Little San Salvador, a Bahamian out-island, was renamed Half Moon Cay by Holland America Line to honor Henry Hudson’s ship, which is also depicted on the cruise line’s logo, as well as to reflect the beach’s crescent shape.
Even with development, the island is still so unspoiled that it has been named a Wild Bird Preserve by the Bahamian National Trust. Excursions include a guided kayak adventure on Bone Fish Lagoon, a protected habitat and home to numerous native species of flora.
Of special note, the Horseback Riding by Land & Sea excursion sets out on a ride along winding trails up to the highest point on the island for a panoramic view before your horse is “dressed” up for swimming in a special saddle pad and a rope halter (no saddle), after which you venture into the ocean for the sensation of riding a horse while it’s swimming.
Half Moon Cay also has a water park with waterslides for family fun, and air-conditioned private cabanas can be rented for your own beachfront retreat, with or without the services of a personal butler.
people who love holland america
Destination Collectors. Holland America Line’s expansive fleet sails to more than 320 ports on the nearly 500 cruises offered annually from 27 homeports. Itineraries range from two days to 108 days and visit all seven continents.
Premium ship lovers. Holland America’s ships are mid-sized, carrying from 793 to 2,104 passengers, and featuring wraparound teak decks and staterooms that are on average 25 percent larger than other ships in its class.
World cruisers. Holland America Line has operated world cruises for more than 25 years..
Long cruisers. Holland America Line’s Grand Voyages allow passengers to explore a specific region of the world on an extended Holland America cruise. Combine Grand Voyages to circumnavigate the globe.
The fourth and final Vista-class sister, the 1,918-passenger 2006-built Noordam (which replaced the previous Noordam that left the fleet in November 2004) and her sisters share a similar design to Carnival’s Spirit-class ships. Touches of whimsy pop up here and there via bright colors and the odd funky piece of art or furniture style. Overall, though, the ships are casually elegant and very spacious.
Public Rooms & Activities On Noordam
Pleasant public rooms comprise both traditional spaces and modern ones. Lovely old-world-style rooms include the Explorer’s Lounge for low-key musical performances, drinks and high tea.
The cozy Atrium Bar on the Main Deck has the feel of a romantic 1930s nightclub while the popular Ocean Bar is also a throw-back and wraps around three-deck atrium with its Waterford crystal chandelier. Funkier contemporary spaces include the piano bar, sports bar and top-of-the-ship Crow’s Nest, an observation lounge during the day and nightclub/disco at night.
The Queen’s Lounge puts on cabaret-style acts evenings and by day is the Culinary Arts Center for cooking demos. Among the most popular spots on the ship is the Explorations Café, a combo coffee shop and Internet center with a well-stocked library — one of the best at sea. For the little ones, the KidZone and WaveRunner children/teen centers are roomy and bright.
Visit the well-equipped gym, the outdoor basketball/volleyball court, or take a stroll around the wraparound Promenade Deck and soak up the great views. The large Greenhouse Spa boasts a thermal suite (a series of saunas and other heat-therapy rooms) and a hydrotherapy pool for relieving muscle tension. Up on deck are two swimming pools–the main one with a retractable roof–and a couple of hot tubs. The pool at the stern has great views.
Dining On Noordam
When it comes to mealtime, options include the glam two-deck main Vista Dining Room. The smaller and more intimate Pinnacle Grill, the place for steaks and fish, has lovely marble floors, gorgeous Bulgari place settings, and ornate sculpture-like chairs. For casual dining, head to the Lido buffet restaurant, which also has a new Italian section called Canaletto.
Staterooms & Suites On Noordam
Cabins are among the industry’s largest, with insides and outsides ranging from 185 to 200 square feet and all of them having a small sitting area and a tub in the bathroom, plus a flatscreen TV and DVD player, makeup mirror, massage shower head, bathrobes, and super comfy bedding. The deluxe veranda suites and cabins in the stern are among the most appealing rooms because of the views and extra deep balconies. All suites guests are privy to private concierge lounge.
Noordam belongs to Holland America Line's Vista Class of cruise ships. These elegant and spacious ships feature some of the largest private balconies found at sea. Perhaps that is why Holland America likes to refer to its balconies as Verandahs. Holland America Line names its ships after something very important to the country of Holland - its dams. The "Noor" in Noordam translates to North.
Holland America Line's ships are characterized by lots of space, and many lounges - quiet as well as lively ones. With the "Signature of Excellence" initiative Holland America ships now include a Culinary Arts center presented by Food & Wine magazine (it's like being in the studio of a TV cooking show), the Explorations Cafe powered by the New York Times, and cabin amenities such as perhaps the best beds in the cruise industry - the Mariner's Dream Beds. Vista class ships also feature glass elevators on the outside of the ship, more than 600 balcony cabins, plus dozens of dining and entertainment options.
Year Built 2006 ♦
Ship's Class: Vista Class ♦
Country of Registry Netherlands ♦
Tonnage 82,000 ♦
Length 936 ft - 280 m ♦
Cruising Speed 24 knots ♦
Passenger Capacity (double occupancy) 1,918 ♦
Passenger Capacity (incl. upper beds) 2,457 ♦
Passenger Decks 11 ♦
Officers and Crew 820 ♦
Officer's Nationality International ♦
Crew and Hotel Staff Nationality International
Total 959 ♦
Suites with Balcony 162 ♦
Oceanview with Balcony 479 ♦
Oceanview without Balcony 165 ♦
Inside 153 ♦
Accessible Cabins (all categories) 28 ♦
Holland America Line's cabins are among the best one can find, with spacious, thoughtful and comfortable design. Amenties in all cabins include luxury bedding, refrigerator, extensive satellite TV programming, and complimentary room service.
TV with music channels ♦
In-Cabin Movies ♦
In-Cabin Internet Access ♦
Private Safe ♦
Traditional 1st and 2nd Sitting Assigned Table Seating ♦
Optional Open Seating - "As You Wish Dining" lets you choose the venues and style that suit you ♦
Formal Nights ♦
Specialty Restaurants: Pinnacle Grill, Canaletto ♦
Specialty Coffee Bar: Explorations Cafe powered by New York Times ♦
24 Hour Room Service Available
Bars and Lounges ♦
Card Room/Game Room ♦
Video Games Arcade
Sports and Activities
Outdoor Pools ♦
Sports Court ♦
Fitness Center ♦
Jogging Track ♦
Promenade Deck wraps around the ship
Spa and Wellness
Full Service Spa ♦
MedSpa Services ♦
Sauna or Steam Room ♦
Beauty Salon ♦
Fitness Assessment ♦
Health and Nutrition Evaluation
Children and Teens
Family Cabins ♦
Organized Age Specific Activities ♦
Children's Pool ♦
Outdoor Children's Play Area ♦
Youth Staff ♦
Dedicated Teen Center ♦
Teen Programs ♦
Teen Staff ♦
Group Babysitting Services
Other Facilities and Services
Duty Free Shops and Boutiques ♦
Dry Cleaning and Laundry Service ♦
Business Center Services ♦
Noordam: A Work of Art
by Ralph Grizzle. An award-winning travel writer, and recognized cruise ship expert.
Maiden Voyage: February 22, 2006
Best Of Class: Noordam is a “perfect ship,” said a young Filipino steward as I boarded. Perhaps she’s “perfect” because Holland America Line had the experience of building three sister vessels that preceded Noordam: Zuiderdam, introduced in 2002, to Oosterdam (2003), to Westerdam (2004) and finally Noordam.
Noordam made her debut with all Signature of Excellence upgrades in place. The multi-million-dollar Signature of Excellence initiative dramatically changed the “hardware” and “software” components of the fleet, with enhancements ranging from improved bedding to new public areas.
My Stateroom: 6166, a spacious Deluxe Verandah Suite on the aft, port corner on Upper Verandah Deck. Features a large, wrap-around verandah, king-size bed with plush Euro-top mattress, high thread count Egyptian cotton bed linens and duvet, bathroom with dual sink vanity, full-size whirlpool bath and shower (plus an additional shower stall), thick and fluffy oversized towels, large sitting area, flat panel TV and DVD player, dressing room, sofa bed (sleeps two) and floor-to-ceiling windows. This category stateroom averages 510 square feet with verandah.
Other Reasons To Choose This Category Stateroom: Additional amenities and services are provided for guests who book either Deluxe Verandah Suite or Penthouse Verandah Suite. My favorite amenities include expedited embarkation and access to the Neptune Lounge, a living-room-like lounge where the best perk is the concierge, whose primary mission is to keep guests from having to stand in line for anything. Make all requests — dinner reservations at the Pinnacle Grill, spa reservations, shore excursions and anything else that would otherwise require your physical presence — through the concierge.
My Favorite Public Room: Explorations Cafe, an internet center/library/coffee shop. “People just tend to gravitate here,” says Krista Rickerts, manager of Explorations Cafe. During my two nights on board, I heard the cafe described as “an upscale Starbucks” and “a private room at the New York Public Library.” The area, forward on Promenade Deck, combines handsome wood desks and bookcases, leather sofas and chairs, thick rows of books and newspapers, and a Starbucks-like coffee and pastry counter. “Powered by The New York Times,” Explorations Cafe is WiFi-enabled for laptops and features computer terminals for browsing the web (surfing The New York Times web site is free, as is browsing Holland America Line’s site). For browsing other sites or for sending and receiving e-mail, rates range from 40 cents per minute to 75 cents per minute for internet access depending on the package. Explorations Cafe is open from 8 a.m. until 10:30 p.m.
Culinary Arts Center: Difficult to appreciate without seeing it, Noordam’s Culinary Arts Center is part professional TV studio (where celebrity chefs do their work in front of audiences) and part hands-on workshop. Think “Emeril Live,” the popular Food Network cooking show. The studio kitchen “features everything that I would have asked for had I been designing it myself,” a celebrity chef told me during my time on board. Operated in conjunction with Food & Wine magazine, the Culinary Arts Center will offer shows as well as free demos and hands-on hourlong workshops (there is a charge for the workshop).
My Favorite Restaurants: For breakfast and lunch, the Lido Restaurant is hard to beat with its multiple food stations and broad selection. For dinner, make your way to The Pinnacle Grill, featuring Pacific Northwest cuisines and select fine wines. Feast on U.S. Sterling Silver Beef and Northwest Seafood at the reservations-only restaurant. The setting is gorgeous. Beautiful Italian Frette linens, Bvlgari show plates crafted by Rosenthal, and Reidel stemware adorn the tabletops. The dining experience here is well worth the $30 per person cover charge.
On Noordam, The Pinnacle Grill was expanded, and the Pinnacle Bar relocated across the walkway. The bar resides in the location of the Windstar Cafe on other Vista-class vessels (the Windstar Cafe on Noordam was replaced by the coffee shop in Explorations Cafe).
My Favorite Menu Items: I’ve dined at the Pinnacle Grill probably a dozen times over the past four years, and the Filet Mignon, aged and seared at 1600F, ranks as the best I’ve ever had. For dessert, the Not-So-Classic Baked Alaska features not just ice cream but Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia. Yum!
The Bottom Line: The last of Holland America Line’s four-ship, Vista-class series, Noordam ranks as the Filipino steward told us upon boarding: a “perfect ship” in the mid-size ship category.
Like A Fine Home
Some of Noordam’s lesser-touted features are the millions of dollars of arts and antiques that imbue the ship with a sense of being in a fine home. Numerous (and notable) artifacts support two main themes shipwide: the Royal House of the Netherlands and the World of Music.
The history of the Dutch monarchy is represented by busts of kings and queens who ruled the Netherlands. Reigning Queen Beatrix appears both in bronze sculpture and in silkscreens by Andy Warhol in the Queen’s Lounge. The atrium displays a noble sculpture of William of Orange, the Dutch prince who is remembered as the “Father of the Fatherland” for leading the Dutch revolt against the Spanish, gaining independence of the region now known as the Netherlands.
In the main lounge, the world of music is symbolized by sculptures of Mozart, a pair of violin chairs and a wall composed of violins. Adorning the Piano Bar are black-and-white photos of blues and jazz icons such as Dizzy Gillespie and B.B. King. The Crow’s Nest on Deck 10 features lively color sketches of various jazz artists.
With a shipping history of more than 130 years, Holland America Line has one of the world’s strongest seafaring traditions, and many art items on Noordam reflect that heritage. A number have been brought over from the old Noordam, including antique decorative pieces, stern carvings, wood reliefs and sculptures. Classic maritime themes, such as Captain Stephen Card’s renowned marine paintings are found throughout Noordam as are decorative ship models.
Artists Gilbert Lebirge and Corinne Roger of Pietrasanta, Italy, were commissioned to design cast-aluminum elevator doors inspired by the art deco designs of New York’s Chrysler Building and lobby chairs highly stylized from the great ocean liner era.
British artist Susanna Holt created a sculpture of five bottlenose dolphins that appear to soar from the sea on Noordam’s Lido Deck. Also notable are beautiful tiled panels in the Explorer’s Lounge and Lido restaurant. Noordam is remarkably beautiful throughout because of the additional care that went into the selection of art for this ship.